Quebec man accused of killing ailing wife takes stand in his defence

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press


Published Friday, February 1, 2019 4:41PM EST

A man charged with killing his wife at a Montreal long-term care facility told a jury Friday he struggled to provide care as her advanced Alzheimer’s worsened.

As he began testifying at his second-degree murder trial, Michel Cadotte told the jury the disease took hold quickly of his wife, Jocelyne Lizotte, even before her formal Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2011.

By then, Cadotte said, he was overwhelmed, struggling to keep his job while caring for his wife at home. “No one,” Cadotte replied when his lawyer Elfriede Duclervil asked who was helping him look after his wife. Often fighting tears, Cadotte, 57, said friends and relatives began to keep their distance.

Stretched too far, Cadotte said he finally agreed in March 2013 to her hospitalization.

Lizotte, 60, was found dead in her bed on Feb. 20, 2017 at the Emelie-Gamelin long-term care facility where she’d been living for three years. She was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, which had left her unable to care for herself and detached from reality.

A head nurse at the facility testified earlier that Cadotte admitted to suffocating his wife with a pillow. His defence is drawing attention to Cadotte’s state of mind at the time of her death

He told the jury Lizotte’s mother had also suffered from Alzheimer’s, and Lizotte had told him she would rather die than be placed in long-term care. “She’d seen what her mother went through — she didn’t see her often — but to lose her dignity like that, she was too proud,” he said.

Cadotte tried to care for her, but was often overwhelmed. Desperate for a break, he sent her to a day centre three days a week. When she was home, Cadotte said he slept only a few hours a night.

He recalled she once soiled herself after locking herself out of the bathroom. “She understood it wasn’t normal,” Cadotte said, wiping away tears. “It was very hard to see her like that the first time.” Finally, sleep-deprived and depressed, Cadotte told a doctor he’d had enough, and the doctor told him to seek hospitalization for Lizotte.

Cadotte said even while she was hospitalized, he complained often about Lizotte’s treatment as health professionals struggled to contain her aggressive behaviour, leaving her covered in bruises. He raised concerns about medications and the daily baths that agitated her.

Earlier, Cadotte described meeting Lizotte for the first time at the cafeteria of a paper company where they both worked. He said the meeting changed his life, and once they started dating she helped him stop using drugs.

“I always said this woman saved my life,” Cadotte said. He described their relationship as a true union — “1+1 =1,” he said.

“We had a beautiful relationship,” he added. “It didn’t change from the beginning until her last breath.”





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